Hello! Shalom! Aloha! Mabuhay!

If this is your first visit to Modern Apocrypha, I have only two recommendations for continuing on with minimal confusion:

1) Please begin with the first introductory post (found HERE) and work your way forward. Almost all the posts on this blog flow chronologically and will make more sense with the background and context of previous ones. Jumping in anywhere might be disorienting.

2) Please read along in the texts posted off to the right. I try not to summarize too much in the commentary and discussion, and being at least somewhat familiar with what we're discussing or I'm commenting on will be most beneficial and edifying for all involved. Plus, going along with the theme of this blog, any hidden truths to be brought to light will be found within the text itself and not necessarily within my ramblings.

Okay, fine, three recommendations:

3) Please read with an open heart, mind, and spirit. See what truths you can find in these works--ones which speak to you. Namaste : )

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I've uploaded the entire text of the Aklatan in its currently available form. Each book is linked over on the sidebar to the right. There were some formatting issues in copying it over, and the font size is a little smaller than I'd like. So, I'll be trying to tweak it little by little as we go along, or you can copy and paste it into your preferred word processor and change it yourself ; ) Also, I've kept the chapters and breaks within chapters as they stand in the published Aklatan. As such, most chapters are simply one long paragraph, making it more difficult to read, but I felt it necessary to preserve the textual integrity. The same can also be said for the grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. I have only changed a few things here and there where there were obvious typos. Most sentences are short thoughts, lengthy phrases, or sentence fragments.

As we go through these books and writings, read ahead and get familiar with the text, since I'll simply be referring to passages, lines, or even just words throughout the commentary and working from there. I would also appreciate any comments or other insights you have that I might've overlooked. This blog isn't designed as a series of lectures, but rather, hopefully, through a discussion-oriented and modified dialectical approach we can incorporate and synthesize our unique perspectives on these subjects and move toward a unified understanding of things (in theory ; ).

Monday, April 28, 2014


My wife, Chelsea, spoke in church yesterday on baptism and the Holy Ghost. I felt that some of her thoughts and quotes she shared were applicable here and fit with the purpose of this blog--namely, that in this life we need to learn how to get, hear, and follow the Spirit of the Lord so that we can be led to truth.

So how do we tune into the Spirit? Once we feel we're on the right track (I'm not going to get into ideas of cleanliness, worthiness, etc.), we first need to calm down. Joseph B. Wirthlin said:
I fear that some [of us] live far beneath our privileges with regard to the gift of the Holy Ghost. Some are distracted by the things of the world that block out the influence of the Holy Ghost, preventing them from recognizing spiritual promptings. This is a noisy and busy world  that we live in. Remember that being busy is not necessarily being spiritual. If we are not careful, the things of this world can crowd out the things of the Spirit.
Harold B. Lee learned this same lesson from David O. McKay:
A few weeks ago, President McKay related to the Twelve an interesting experience.... He said it is a great thing to be responsive to the whisperings of the Spirit, and we know that when these whisperings come it is a gift and our privilege to have them. They come when we are relaxed and not under pressure of appointments. (I want you to mark that.) The President then took occasion to relate an experience in the life of Bishop John Wells, former member of the Presiding Bishopric. A son of Bishop Wells was killed in Emigration Canyon on a railroad track. Brother John Wells was a great detail man and prepared many of the reports we are following up now. His boy was run over by a freight train. Sister Wells was inconsolable. She mourned during the three days prior to the funeral, received no comfort at the funeral, and was in a rather serious state of mind. One day soon after the funeral services while she was lying on her bed relaxed, still mourning, she says that her son appeared to her and said, "Mother, do not mourn, do not cry. I am all right." He told her that she did not understand how the accident happened and explained that he had given the signal to the engineer to move on, and then made the usual effort to catch the railing on the freight train; but as he attempted to do so his foot caught on a root and he failed to catch the hand rail, and his body fell under the train. It was clearly an accident. Now listen! He said that as soon as he realized that he was in another environment he tried to see his father, but he couldn’t reach him. His father was so busy with the duties in his office he could not respond to his call. Therefore, he had come to his mother. He said to her, "You tell father that all is well with me, and I want you not to mourn any more."

Then the President made the statement that the point he had in mind was that when we are relaxed in a private room we are more susceptible to those things; and that so far as he was concerned, his best thoughts come after he gets up in the morning and is relaxed and thinking about the duties of the day; that impressions come more clearly, as if it were to hear a voice. Those impressions are right. If we are worried about something and upset in our feelings, the inspiration does not come. If we so live that our minds are free from worry and our conscience is clear and our feelings are right toward one another, the operation of the spirit of the Lord upon our spirit is as real as when we pick up the telephone.
We need to mind and be mindful of the Spirit. We can't do that through interference, whatever its source.

So, then, referring to the title (John 16:13), what truth is the Spirit leading us to? God's workings--His plan, His truth, etc.--is deeper than we can fathom, broader than we can comprehend, and grander than we can imagine. But it is all focused on us; He works toward and glories in our immortality and eternal life. All He asks is that we work to match our frequency to His and catch a glimpse of His vision for us.

Joseph Smith taught (D&C 130:18-19):
Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come. 
But he constantly struggled to get the "Saints" to join with him in what the Spirit had taught and shown him...
Why be so certain that you comprehend the things of God, when all things with you are so uncertain? You are welcome to all the knowledge and intelligence I can impart to you. (13 Aug 1843)
...and lamented when they could or would not.
Some people say I am a fallen Prophet, because I do not bring forth more of the word of the Lord. Why do I not do it? Are we able to receive it? No! not one in this room. (19 Dec 1841)

It is my meditation all the day, and more than my meat and drink, to know how I shall make the Saints of God comprehend the visions that roll like an overflowing surge before my mind. Oh! how I would delight to bring before you things which you never thought of! But poverty and the cares of the world prevent. (16 Apr 1843)

There has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation. It has been like splitting hemlock knots [very hard] with a corn-dodger [cornbread] for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle [mallet]. Even the Saints are slow to understand. I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. (21 Jan 1844) 
Now think of the doctrines, creeds, and beliefs of traditional Christianity, and then think of all of the non- or post-traditional (i.e., crazy) things Joseph Smith restored, revealed, and taught that were and are accepted by Latter-day Saints--corporeal deity, plural marriage, an infinite atonement saving extraterrestrial beings, temple ordinances, etc. These were just a mere introduction to reality! What he's trying to get at here is that there was and is SO much more to learn of God's truth and His plan for His children. Things that would make today's most stalwart believer crack if they held too tightly to the traditions of their current belief system. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is expansive, and we need to be open and flexible enough to grasp it. Hopefully we can all keep that in mind as we move forward in our spiritual exploration of truth.


Here's a quick list of some of the recurring and important themes, topics, subjects, etc. found within the Aklatan:

- visions, miracles, & other spiritual gifts
- resurrected & translated beings
- appearances & prophecies of Christ
- priesthood authority & saving ordinances
- temple--importance of, ordinances, marriage, etc.
- Israel--scattering, gathering, & covenants with God
- apostasy & restoration
- prophesies of the latter days
- plural marriage
- homosexuality
- missionary work
- antichrists
- unity
- signs of Christ's birth/death
- role of women
- Book of Mormon peoples
- AND MORE!!! ; )

Half of the 24 books of the Aklatan have been published in their full form along with selections from another two. The remaining ten will be published with updated editions. (The Gospel Written by Angulu and the full Book of Ahkman were released Dec 2013.) Here is a current table of contents (selections in italics; unreleased in bold) (h/t Isles of the Sea):

The Book of Visions
Selections from Ezekiel
The Life of Suran
The Great Scroll of Suran
The History of the Ophir
The Book of Ahkman
The Book of Arakim
The Journeys of Gubir and Jaresh
The Book of Kimesh
The Gospel Written by Angulu
The Gospel Written by Taletan
The Lesser Gospel Written by Buka
A Record of the Twelve Women
Prophecy of the Prophetess Liwan
The Book of Strangers
The Prophecies of Telemek
The Song of Banali
The Book of Datara
The Book of Kilinga
The Preserved Record of Algapo
The Book of Namwaran
The Book of Ruman
The Rock of Ruman
The Record of the Ancients

There is no specific timeline for the full release of each book; it depends on the accomplishment of certain events. A chart describing what events will trigger the publication of each portion can be found HERE.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


The Aklatan is the most recent of the texts I'll be discussing in this blog, and probably one of the most important, or at least most relevant, to LDS audiences. First published in 2007, it has been referred to as the Book of Mormon of the Philippines, as the text itself and it's publication have close parallels to that of the Book of Mormon--ministering of heavenly beings, miraculous discovery and translation, dispersion and gathering of lost Israel, ancient "Christian" prophets, visitation of a resurrected Christ, prophecy of the latter days, etc. The publisher, however, is a self-proclaimed lifelong Catholic.

The name, Aklatan, (pronounced a-KLAT-an) is Tagalog for "library" or "collection of books", and is the equivalent of the the English word "bible", which itself comes from the Greek biblia, meaning "books", since the Bible is a collection of dozens of "books"--writings, histories, letters, etc. Also, in some places you'll see the Aklatan referred to as Ang Aklatan; ang is simply the definite article, or "the" in English. I personally prefer to drop it.

I'll be covering the good majority of the history of the Aklatan along with the available text, but if you're interested, the official website can be found HERE.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Hello All -

Years ago I became interested in ancient languages and texts, especially those of a religious nature. I've been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to study many of them in their original language during my college years. Among my favorites are the Judeo-Christian apocrypha, pseudepigrapha, esoterica, etc. (h/t Dad) (A quick source for English translations of many of these texts can be found HERE.)

Following his translation of the Latin Vulgate Bible in the late 4th Century AD (which would later become the approved Bible of the Catholic church), the great theologian, Jerome, began distinguishing canonical from apocryphal (meaning "hidden away" or "secret") books of the Bible (although all were included in his version). It seems his was a rigid conception of canonicity, one demanding that a book, to be canonical, must be received by all, have the sanction of antiquity, and above all, be suited not only to spiritual edification and enlightenment but also to the establishment and confirmation of church doctrine. Despite this early beginning, an official Catholic canon would not be decreed until the Council of Trent in 1546, in response to the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS Church or Mormons), I belong to one of the few Christian denominations that believes in an open canon. While the Church has canonized its "standard works" (the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price) by the principle of common consent, there is room yet on the its scriptural shelf. Its founder, Joseph Smith, wrote:
We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
The question then becomes, "Which non-canonical writings--past, present, or future--could be considered inspired of God and for potential inclusion?" I'll address this to some extent later in this post and throughout subsequent ones. (On the other hand, which writings should be kicked out? ; ) Joseph Smith considered Song of Solomon not inspired of God and, therefore, apocryphal, even though it was included in the LDS canon.)

The past century has seen several new apocryphal texts come to light--some world-renowned, others much more obscure--claiming to have been divinely inspired, and each holds some pertinence for Latter-day Saints specifically (my primary audience here) and Christianity at large. The Nag Hammadi Library, Dead Sea Scrolls, and Gospel of Judas fit into the first camp of more well-known texts. There have been countless commentaries written on the more popular apocrypha (ancient and "modern"), but none, that I know of, on the more obscure of the modern apocrypha, especially those from outside the Judeo-Christian core of the Middle East. This blog will serve as a forum to address the latter group (modern, obscure, non-Middle Eastern) in the form of running commentaries. I've already read through most of the texts I'll be covering in this blog and have found value in them, even if some come off as odd. But that's the nature of apocrypha : )

In March 1833, Joseph Smith was engaged in the "translation" of the Old Testament. (We don't have time here to go into the method, process, or semantics of Joseph Smith's various "translations"; "transmission" seems to be a more appropriate word.) He didn't know what to do with the Biblical apocrypha, inquired of the Lord, and received what is now Section 91 of the Doctrine and Covenants:
There are many things contained therein that are true, and it is mostly translated correctly; There are many things contained therein that are not true, which are interpolations by the hands of men. Verily, I say unto you, that it is not needful that the Apocrypha should be translated. Therefore, whoso readeth it, let him understand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth; And whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom; And whoso receiveth not by the Spirit, cannot be benefited. Therefore it is not needful that it should be translated.
Bruce R. McConkie summed up these directions:
Obviously (everything seemed obvious to E. McConkie ; ), to gain any real value from a study of apocryphal writings, the student must first have an extended background of gospel knowledge, a comprehensive understanding of the standard works of the Church, plus the guidance of the Spirit.
Finally, D&C 88:118 records the Lord's commandments to His people in this regard:
And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.
This is the intent of this blog. With all the texts I will cover, it is my goal to address them prima facie, at face value, and avoid undue value judgments, that is judging their rightness, wrongness, usefulness, etc. It is also my goal to avoid ad hominem attacks, arguments, or even deep examination, whereby the claims of the text could be rejected based on potential character flaws, etc. of the author (if known). Rather, I hope to put forth a critical and objective commentary on these texts (but not a full critical analysis of them), while working with an LDS framework, paradigm, and worldview. Each post will be considered a work in progress, and I will continue to amend and edit them into the future. Above all, I hope this blog will be fun, insightful, and thought-provoking. (Also, reading between the lines, grasping sarcasm, following tongue-in-cheek asides, chasing tangential rabbits down their proverbial holes, etc. are often requirements of my writing and teaching style.)

To conclude, I believe Moroni's promise at the end of the Book of Mormon (Moroni 10:4-7) is not reserved strictly for that volume but is meant to be applied liberally:
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is. And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.
It seems he'd heard this from his father, Mormon (Moroni 7:13-14,16):
But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God. Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil. For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
With this introduction, let's see what hidden things we can bring to light.